TAMPA (WFLA) – Four days after wide receiver Antonio Brown threw off his helmet and ran off the field in the middle of a game against the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated his contract, the team announced Thursday.
Brown said he was approached on the sideline by Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, who asked what was wrong with him. After telling the coach it was his ankle, Brown said Arians “then ordered me to get on the field.”
“Just to clear you up on some things that happened – at no point in time during that game did he ever ask the trainer or a doctor about his ankle. That’s the normal protocol – you go through protocols during games. I was never notified of it. So, obviously, that was the disturbing thing when we were looking for him to go back into the game. He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted. We got that calmed down, the players took care of that. It started again on the sideline. We called for the personnel group that he had played in the entire game, and he refused to go into the game. That’s when I looked back and saw him basically wave off the coach. I then went back and approached him about what was going on. ‘I ain’t playing.’ ‘What’s going on?’ ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said, ‘You’re done. Get the ‘eff’ out of here.’ That’s the end of it. We are working on Carolina. That’s the end of the story, and hopefully it ends today.”
Arian’s comments are in line with his comments on Monday saying that Brown’s exit had nothing to do with an injury.
The team’s release stated Brown was cleared to play by the medical team prior to the game against the New York Jets despite his claim that an MRI showed broken bone fragments, torn ligament and cartilage loss in his ankle.
“You can’t force a player to play. I mean they have that choice. It’s their body. He [Brown] decided to play. He and Mike [Evans] both were on pitch counts. We were trying to manage as best we could in the first half,” Arians said.
Brown’s teammate Tom Brady also spoke following the wide receiver’s release.
“I think there’s a lot of personal feelings, obviously. I don’t think this is really the week to discuss it though. I’m just going to do the best I can do as the quarterback of the team, try to put together a great week and finish strong. You just always deal with different things over the course of the season and that’s what we’re doing this week,” Brady said.
Brown suffered an ankle injury in Week 6 and missed five games. He then was suspended for three games after an NFL investigation found that he had produced a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
Arians who has known Brown since both were members of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization hopes Brown gets the help he needs.
“Yeah, I’m hurt, but I just still wish the best for him. Just get the help you need,” Arians said.